HOPES of a Channel Islands ferry crossing service have once more been raised for Weymouth and Portland after it emerged that discussions between Weymouth councillors and representatives in Guernsey have been progressing.

As reported, last summer town councillor Jan Bergman began investigating whether there would be any ferry companies would be interested in operating a service.

Councillors later voted unanimously in favour of continuing to investigate the situation - and it has now emerged that discussions have been progressing behind the scenes.

The topic was raised at a Full Weymouth Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening - amid hints that a potential future service could operate from Portland.

Cllr Bergman said there was "great appetite" for the plans among officials in Guernsey.

"As councillors know myself, councillor Huckle and the Mayor have been having discussions with Guernsey about starting a ferry," he said.

"A lot of this is in confidence so I can't say too much - but certainly there is a great appetite for this in Guernsey. Things are currently on hold as they have had a new elections of their Government which are tied up with covid at the moment. But we were meeting with Guernsey every four to five weeks, and will be resuming this."

The topic was raised amid discussions over the Weymouth Peninsula site, as councillors debated their responses to the Dorset Council Local Plan consultation.

Cllr Bergman added: "Behind the scenes I think it is economically viable, so I would like to include (in our response to the Dorset Local Plan) that we would like to keep open the option for a ferry service between here and Guernsey."

Councillor Richard Nickinson alluded to Portland being considered as an option for the service. "I'm not sure that the ferry would go to the Peninsula - or to Portland," he said.

"I think that could be the more realistic option."

Weymouth mayor councillor Graham Winter added: "It's going to be a passenger ferry - not a roll on, roll off ferry."

A motion to include the potential for a Channel Islands ferry was proposed by cllr Bergman and seconded by councillor Ryan Hope.

Councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour - 22 votes 'for', while and five abstained.

It comes as the last remaining relic of the Condor Ferry service, the terminal building on Custom House Quay, is demolished.

Condor Ferries, which previously provided a link to the Channel Islands and France, switched its services to Poole in 2015 after Weymouth port was deemed unsuitable for its larger ferry, and required £10 million worth of investment to make it viable.

The former borough council had spent £4 million refurbishing a berth, but Condor required a larger berth which needed a major upgrade.

With Condor’s departure the council lost £750,000 a year in harbour income and the local economy suffered a major blow as passengers headed to Poole.


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